Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 100815
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File Number: 100815 File Type: Resolution Status: Adopted
Version: 0 Reference: R-411-10 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: URGING TO REDUCE PRISON SPENDING FOR NON-VIOLENT OFFENDERS Introduced: 3/29/2010
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 4/6/2010
Agenda Date: 4/6/2010 Agenda Item Number: 11A35
Notes: Title: RESOLUTION URGING THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE AND GOVERNOR CHARLIE CRIST’S ADMINISTRATION TO REDUCE THE STATE’S PRISON SPENDING BY IMPLEMENTING LESS COSTLY AND MORE EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION FOR NON-VIOLENT OFFENDERS
Indexes: PRISONS
  URGING
Sponsors: Barbara J. Jordan, Prime Sponsor
  Sally A. Heyman, Co-Sponsor
  Dorrin D. Rolle, Co-Sponsor
  Katy Sorenson, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

Board of County Commissioners 4/6/2010 11A35 Adopted P

County Attorney 3/29/2010 Assigned Jess M. McCarty 3/29/2010

Legislative Text


TITLE
RESOLUTION URGING THE FLORIDA LEGISLATURE AND GOVERNOR CHARLIE CRIST’S ADMINISTRATION TO REDUCE THE STATE’S PRISON SPENDING BY IMPLEMENTING LESS COSTLY AND MORE EFFECTIVE ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION FOR NON-VIOLENT OFFENDERS

BODY
WHEREAS, Florida’s state prison population continues to increase at a rapid rate, with 1,527 inmates added last year pushing the total prison population to more than 101,000; and
WHEREAS, the Florida Department of Corrections currently runs 56 state prisons with another six prisons run by private contractors, and accounts for 8.5 percent of the state budget; and
WHEREAS, each inmate housed in a Florida prison costs Florida taxpayers $17,500 for the first year and $16,000 each year thereafter, according to Florida TaxWatch; and
WHEREAS, Florida spends approximately $100 million to build each new prison and each new prison costs Florida taxpayers $20 million per year to operate; and
WHEREAS, each new prison holds approximately 1,300 inmates, less than the number of prisoners added to the state prison system last year; and
WHEREAS, more than half of Florida’s current inmates committed nonviolent crimes; and
WHEREAS, many inmates in Florida’s state prison system are currently serving long and/or mandatory minimum sentences for relatively low level nonviolent crimes; and
WHEREAS, two dissimilar groups, the Pew Center on the States, a Washington think tank, and Florida TaxWatch, a Tallahassee taxpayer watchdog group, both recommended similar changes to Florida's tough sentencing policies in order to reduce the number of inmates housed in Florida prisons and the corresponding cost to taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, the Pew study found that, while Florida’s prison population continued to increase, the prison population nationally actually declined last year for the first time in 40 years as states looked for ways to contain prison costs while providing more effective rehabilitation for non-violent offenders; and
WHEREAS, the Pew study documented how 27 states have managed to lower their prison population by
* Diverting low-level offenders and probation and parole violators from prison;
* Strengthening community supervision and re-entry programs;
* Accelerating the release of low-risk inmates who complete risk reduction programs; and

WHEREAS, Florida TaxWatch identified 11 recommendations related to reducing Florida’s state inmate population that could save as much as $481 million annually:
* Requiring written justification for prison sentences given to individuals with sentencing scores of 44 or less;
* Expanding electronic monitoring as alternative to prison sentences;
* Expanding adult post-adjudicatory drug courts;
* Instituting adult post-incarceration drug courts;
* Increasing the maximum gain time accrual allowed;
* Authorizing the possibility of parole for certain offenders who were juveniles when sentenced;
* Authorizing the possibility of parole for certain elderly offenders;
* Reclassifying low level drug possession as a misdemeanor;
* Expanding work release programs;
* Expanding the Redirection program;
* Expanding programs that reduce recidivism to slow new prison construction; and
WHEREAS, several states with reputations for being tough on crime, such as Texas and Kansas, have reformed their criminal justice systems in recent years and realized substantial savings while improving outcomes and without risking public safety; and
WHEREAS, through the expansion of its prison diversion programs, Texas saved $512 million in fiscal year 2008-09 and simultaneously saw a drop in probation and parole revocations by 26 percent and 4 percent, respectively; and
WHEREAS¸ by restoring earned time and other reforms, Kansas saved $80 million in corrections costs over a five year period while seeing a 46 percent reduction in parole revocations and a 28 percent drop in probation revocations; and
WHEREAS¸ , rather than continue to build new prisons to house non-violent offenders and especially in these challenging economic and budgetary times, Florida should follow the lead of states such as Texas and Kansas, and explore alternatives to incarceration that not only are substantially less costly to taxpayers but also promise better outcomes,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, that this Board:
Section 1. Urges the Florida Legislature and Governor Charlie Crist’s administration to reduce the state’s prison spending by implementing less costly and more effective alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders.
Section 2. Directs the Clerk of the Board to transmit certified copies of this resolution to the Governor, Senate President, House Speaker and the Chair and Members of the Miami-Dade State Legislative Delegation.
Section 3. Directs the County’s state lobbyists to advocate for the issue identified in Section 1 above, and authorizes and directs the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to include this item in the 2010 and 2011 state legislative packages.



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